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Cuenca, Ecuador Gap Volunteer Nora S. shares her experience adjusting to a totally new location and lifestyle and how she overcame the challenges she encountered in the process.


Three days ago marked my month long journey here in Cuenca. The beginning week was one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever had to overcome.

That week was full of transitions. Dealing with transitions and change haven’t always been my forte. And this past year was the first year, after my mom passed away, that I actually felt comfortable in where I was in my life.

Then came along this trip that took me out of my comfort zone and I was pushed and forced to find my sense of comfort all over again. I have made one of my closest friends. After moving into my host family’s house and establishing a close relationship with my host mom, I started to find a sense of home. As of now, I am overjoyed each day to be given this opportunity to live here for four months. There’s always moments where homesickness kicks in but instead of homesickness being the dominant feeling, it’s happiness.



I feel like I am at peace. I wish I signed up for the year-long program instead of the semester because Cuenca is where my heart is.

The connection I have made with not only my host mom but with my entire host family leaves me speechless. My host mom, Patricia, has the kindest most welcoming heart I have ever encountered. I feel as if embodies the term “mother”; just because I am not her blood related child doesn’t stop her from making me feel like I am. I will miss her the most when I leave and she is the reason I will be back to Cuenca soon after my departure in December.

I couldn’t have asked for a better internship. Working at Escuela UE Republica de Chile meets all the expectations I had. All the teachers are so open and generous, and all the students are so grateful. I teach English by myself to an afternoon class of seventh graders who are precious. I always take some time out of the class to talk to each of them one-on-one, so I can get to know them personally and be their friend, not just their “English teacher.”

I now have a little more then a month left in this amazing country and I take every minute I can to cherish these moments of gratitude I will remember for the rest of my life.



I have been feeling a mix of bittersweet emotions, given that I have half a month left in this beautiful country. These last few weeks have been filled with balancing time with my internship, host family, outside activities, responsibilities, and friendships.

My time teaching English at Escuela UE Republica de Chile has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had. I felt like the least I could do to give back to this wonderful school was to fundraise more money for the project my colleges and I agreed on. To my surprise in less than a week my fundraiser goal was met! The fundraising money and the given amount from AMIGOS totaled into a colossal $1,700! I was ecstatic! The director was quite enthusiastic because she was happy I was allocating funds for projects the faculty and staff are passionate about. I am overjoyed that all the faculty members are now content.

My interning experience went above and beyond any expectations I had. Not only are all the students and teachers amazing, but the close relationship I’ve established with one of the English teachers there has brought me nothing but knowledge, curiosity, and awe of her charismatic role as a teacher, mother, and close friend. Every free moment we get is a chance to ask questions about each other’s culture, acknowledge our differences, and practice pronunciation in either Spanish or English. Amigos de las Americas gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with and learn from one of the most incredible people I have ever met, Elizabeth. She is one of the main reasons I want to continue in the education field while volunteering in community service in Cuenca.

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